sand or rocks ? Please help ! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-22-2012, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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sand or rocks ? Please help !

I am new to keepin aquariums. I have white rocks as my substrate in my 29 gallon, with fake plants. I have been readin up on planted tanks and really thinkin about switching over to sand. I am wonderin if plants can do well and grow in fank rocks ? Or do they do better in sand ? I have also just come across a thread about fake rocks aren't good for Cories. And they dont get enough food !! How AWFUL if this is true ! My poor little fellas are probably hungry ! I've only had them 2 weeks but they seem to be doin good. Always movin around on the bottom pickin up food and eatin it.

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post #2 of 7 Old 07-22-2012, 11:46 PM
I"m assuming your talking about gravel and as long as it is small, rounded and smoother your cories should do fine. As for getting plants the will grow just as well in gravel as sand. Both have their pro's and con's and it all comes down to what you think looks better in your aquarium. Although some fish need sand like some of the Loaches and eels because they like to burrow. So don't worry about switching over as it may cause more stress than is necessary on the fish unless you really want to switch.

Thats just my opinion. Their is lots of information about plants and substrate (gravel vs. sand) As well as ton of info on nearly anything you ever want to know and then some on keeping an aquarium.

Also welcome to the fish forum!!!
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-23-2012, 09:07 AM
I have no idea what you mean by 'fake rocks' but plants should grow well in fine (small) gravel or sand. Actually, I've read that plants grow really well in sand capped soil muck (organic potting soil or mineralized top soil) "dirt". However, soil substrate tanks take some extra care and patience to setup and stabilize and often the display focus is on plants rather than fish.

For the average fishkeeper sand or small sized gravel is the way to go. In some respects, I have come around to think that sand is easier/better to maintain long term. The finer particle size of sand causes detritus (plant and fish waste) to remain on the surface as mulm and slowly decay. This better ensures against this waste sifting down into the substrate as it would with most gravels. Mulm is a very healthy thing in an aquarium and as/if desired, the detritus can be easily removed with a siphon hovering just above the surface.
Also, there is much written about the benefits of an undisturbed deep (3" or more) sand bed. Beneficial organisms populate the sand and various levels, including anaerobic bacteria in lower levels that may oxidize nitrate (denitrification).

Note: sand (whether play sand or pool filter sand) must be carefully washed (rinsed) to remove fines (dust like particles of sand) before being used in the aquarium. I find the best way is outside with a 5g bucket and garden hose.


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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 07-23-2012 at 09:09 AM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-23-2012, 09:28 AM
My Wife's loaches kept soil stirred up no matter what type of cap we used.
Eco-complete works very well for me in planted tanks with Corys, but it is much more expensive than sand.
Play sand takes a lot of washing. Don't stop as I did just because I could see the sand in the bottom of th bucket.
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-23-2012, 09:58 AM
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I'm a play sand convert. It's super cheap and the best substrate to use if you're going to keep cories because it doesn't injure their barbells. My plants are growing great in it, too.

-Kristen's tanks:

14g Tall:
Planted, eco-complete, Red Cherry Shrimp

16g Aqueon Bowfront:
Planted, eco-complete, 8 Ember tetras, 7 Green neon tetras, 6 Harlequin Rasboras

36 Aqueon Bowfront: Planted, sand, 10 Julii cories, 8 Zebra Danios
7 Cherry Barbs, Asst snails & Ghost shrimp
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-23-2012, 05:43 PM
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If corys are intended, go with sand. Play sand is inexpensive, authentic to the corys' habitat, and easy.

Assuming the present white rock/gravel is what is pictured in your Log, I agree that that is not suited to corys. Corys like to upend themselves and dig down into the sand about half an inch, then sift the sand through their gills. They will be much happier with playsand.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-26-2012, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody !! I am learnin all new stuff to do now for aquariums that I didn't evevn know coulda been doin back in the waaaay early 90's. Sometimes when I serch these threads, I find something that I should change up than I used to be doing. And.... NO... I aint commplaining. This is the most helpful there is for "us" newbs

And yes, that was me calling rocks as my substrate. The correct name is gravel.

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